Posted in It's all about me

Times Past: In the School Playground

I haven’t taken part in Irene’s Times Past challenge for ages, and I’m scraping in this month by the skin of my teeth.

I am of the Baby Boomer generation, and my schools were located in rural Victoria, Australia.


In total, I attended six primary schools and two secondary schools. My dad was a seasonal labourer and we moved often during my first school years. Dad was away from home a lot – often away picking fruit, shearing, crutching, or carting hay.

So, playgrounds?

My memories of school are vague, at best, but I guess I had to defer to the older kids when it came to using swings, slides, roundabouts, and monkey bars. At home, I was a good climber and loved climbing trees. Scrambling over fixed metal bars held no fear – until I was enticed to have a go at the monkey bars. I was still too small, the ground seemed miles away, and I still recall the fear. I think I did fall, but cannot be sure.

Some parts of the school grounds were asphalted. There, lines marked out little courts for handball games and other school activities.

Like Irene, we were issued with morning milk. I never minded it warm. The best part was taking off the foil cap and licking off the cream that had risen to the top of the 1/3 pint glass bottle.

We used the shelter sheds if it rained – not very pleasant places when full of damp children. The teachers discouraged us from hanging about in them when the weather was fine.

We girls would play skip rope or elastics. Hoppy (hopscotch) was one of my favourites for those all too short snatches of playtime between learning sessions. It was a game you could pick up from where you left off.

With our nimble young fingers, we made cat’s whiskers and prepared cunning traps to capture the fingers of those silly enough to take up our dare to test our string creations.

Or, thrusting folded paper fortune-tellers aka chatterboxes forward, we would invite friends and foes alike to ‘pick a colour’, followed by ‘pick a number’. Laughter and / or scowls would greet the revelations under the flaps. Some of us got quite creative.

I had to use Google to refresh my memory on making this

In grade 5, I played a few games of marbles with the boys. I gave up when I lost my tom bowler, passing my marbles on to one of my brothers.

In grade 6, I had a small stack of swapcards and spent playtime inspecting other girl’s cards and making swaps. Swapcards were a localised fad, it seems, as it depended on there being a variety store like Coles or Woolworths in the area. I was fond of collecting cards with cute kittens – like these ones on eBay –  and birds.

Ordinary playing cards with decent pictures could be swapped, too.  Boys would have swapped sports cards from bubblegum packs and other sources. Interestingly, during the 1980s, schools banned swapping on school premises dues to arguments, theft, and unfair trading!



Yo-yos came in grade 6, too, with the arrival of the Coca-Cola man. We all had to have yo-yos then and none of us were happy until we could ‘walk the dog’.

About then, I received a pack of colourful plastic jacks as a gift. Not many takers at playtime for knucklebones, so don’t think I took them to school much. At home, I preferred my homemade ones – collected from sheep skeletons in the paddocks behind the old farmhouse we rented.
Mongolian_game_(6325695968)By Sarah Joy from United Kingdom (Mongolian game) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t always indulge in physical play, though. Sometimes I would find a quiet spot in the girl’s shelter shed and read. Or spend one-on-one time with a friend.

On occasion,  play was curtailed by yard duty – picking up rubbish.

And then came High School and serious playtime pursuits such as catching up on homework, or talking about boys. All too soon, swings and monkey-bars were mere props for showing off. But, then again, I supposed they always were.

Thanks for reading!

Do have a great weekend. 🙂


I started blogging in an effort to keep the old brain cells alive. I'm writing a fantasy series, I take more MOOCs than I can handle, and am trying to get my Nikon D3000 off auto. I live in Victoria, Australia, with my husband and our dog, Vika.

6 thoughts on “Times Past: In the School Playground

  1. What a wonderful post full of your memories. You brought some back to me — cats whiskers rings a bell. Is that where you have some wool tied in a circle and you put it over your hands and make eg cats whiskers. I hadn’t thought of that game since I probably played it. The other one was your chatterboxes. Good on you for finding out how to make it again. I don’t think I could from memory. Had to laugh at why the school banned swapping. Times haven’t changed much. Thanks for joining in Christine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, cat’s whiskers was one of the designs one made with the circle of wool – needed nimble fingers alright! I nearly couldn’t get mine inside the chatterbox. Thanks for this prompt, Irene. Things came back to me while writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was so interesting to me; I experienced most of what you mentioned during my elementary school years — but i never used bits of sheep skeletons for jacks! I had forgotten about the folded paper fortune tellers. What fun we had creating and playing with them. Thanks for the memories, Christine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also had forgotten about the fortune teller and, when I did remember them, I had no idea what we called them or how we used them. I love the internet – one can fill out elusive memories! Thanks for dropping by, Janet. I’ve been slack with blogging, and you were fortunate to find something new on your visit. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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